Suggested Driving Route – Albany’s South End

Guest blogger: Tom McPheeters. 

These instructions are intended for TWO people — ONE to drive and the OTHER to read the directions.

Download the MAP.

 

The purpose of this suggested driving route is to let you see most of the Breathing Lights buildings in the South End (a few exceptions at the end) and get a feel for the South End. You will see many vacant buildings, some owned by the Albany County Land Bank, and many in legal limbo. That can be a bit depressing, so we want to remind you about some of the positive developments in the South End as we go. They include:

  • Albany Housing Authority investments in new, human scale buildings on Morton, Catherine, Clinton, Broad and South Pearl.
  • Habitat for Humanity clusters of home ownership buildings on Alexander and Delaware Streets.
  • Newly renovated Howe Library.
  • The Capital South Campus Center, built by Albany Housing Authority. Also, Albany Housing Authority’s recent acquisition of the two major buildings across Warren Street from Victory Church (use undetermined).
  • The Albany County Land Bank has stemmed the tide of auctions and irresponsible investors. Responsible investor interest in land bank properties picking up, albeit slowly.
  • South End Improvement Corp. working with AHA and Land Bank, plan to purchase and rehab buildings on Elizabeth St. (a major corridor).
  • New gardens springing up thanks to AVillage, Radix, citizens.
  • Active civic groups, including the South End Neighborhood Association and AVillage…, Inc. and active churches.

 

ROUTE AND NARRATIVE:

START at Capital South Campus Center, 20 Warren St.

This building serves as a hub for education, employment and community in the South End. Look across the street at the “Dream Center” and the “Lets Make A Deal” buildings recently acquired by the Housing Authority and the City, and imagine how they can breathe new life into the community.

DRIVE EAST to Grand Street, noting the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center on your left.

RIGHT on Morton and immediate LEFT onto Elizabeth Street.

Notice the newly rehabbed Albany Housing Authority buildings on Morton Avenue opposite the towers.

  1. 48 Elizabeth Street. is on your right just before Delaware Street. One of the buildings that SEIC may acquire. They own another rental property on this street.

RIGHT onto Delaware Street going west.

  1. 52 Delaware St. On your left just after you make the turn. Keep following the street past the new Habitat homes. Also notice to your right the rear of a new house on Osborn Street being built by a retired couple from Clifton Park on a land bank vacant lot.

Where the road curves around to the left at Eagle Street, notice the stairs that come down two flights from Catherine Street and Morton Avenue, an important pedestrian throughway for the neighborhood.

FOLLOW CURVE around to Alexander Street, heading back the way you came.

  1. 77 Alexander St. You are heading back toward Elizabeth. This small building is on your left close to Elizabeth Street.

CROSS OVER Elizabeth Street and stay on Alexander Street.

You pass the row of Habitat houses on your left. This block also has an important church and many other homeowners. On the right hand side of the middle of the block at 46 Alexander is a new garden being developed from three land bank lots. Notice the circular mosaic on the side of the land bank building adjacent to the vacant lot. (There are no Breathing Lights buildings on this block, but there are three land bank buildings. The buildings themselves are difficult, but this would be a good block to invest in.)

RIGHT onto Clinton Street, and your first RIGHT onto Fourth Avenue.

As you turn onto Fourth, notice the new garden on the right hand side, another land bank lot turned back to community use.

  1. 133 Fourth Ave. On your right, halfway up the block.
  2. 144 Fourth Ave., on your left. Notice the nearly intact streetscape and family scale buildings on this block. This block was historically a family street.

Notice the circular mosaic on the front of 150 Fourth Avenue, a land bank property.

LEFT on Elizabeth Street going south.

Look to your right to see the Harriet Tubman Democratic High School (a functioning alternative school) and the neighborhood playground park and playground.

  1. 95 Elizabeth St. is up the hill, past the stop sign at Third Avenue on the right.

LEFT onto Second Avenue.

This section of Second Avenue is due for a code enforcement and façade makeover by the city.

  1. 55 Second Ave. is on your left, just after you turn onto Second.

FIRST LEFT onto Stephen Street, going down the hill. 

  1. 20 Stephen St. On your right, about halfway down
  2. 9 Stephen St. On your left.

RIGHT at Third Avenue.

Notice the circular mosaic on the side of 113 Third Avenue, another land bank building (on your left), by the garden.

PASS Teunis and RIGHT on Clinton Street, going up that hill again.

  1. 127 Clinton St. is half way up the hill on your right.

RIGHT at Second Avenue, and then immediate RIGHT onto Teunis Street.

  1. 32 Teunis St. is on your right about half way down the hill. Notice the circular mosaic on the land bank building across the street.

At the bottom of the hill you are back on Third Avenue. PASS Clinton Street and LEFT on Broad Street.

Note the new town homes, Jaret Holt Mews, built by Albany Housing Authority about five years ago and extended down Broad Street several years later.

  1. 60 Broad St. is two and a half blocks north on Broad Street, on your right. It is a small ivy covered building with a circular mosaic on the side facing north. On the other side of Schuyler Street note the Howe Library, the city’s only remaining original library building completely renovated several years ago.

PROCEED on Broad Street to Morton Avenue, take a LEFT past the courts building and Union Missionary Baptist Church and RIGHT onto Grand Street back to Warren Street and the Campus Center.

Note the Radix Center (the big greenhouse and the livestock pen) on your right.

That’s the END of the tour.

However, there are four other Breathing Lights buildings in the South End you can see on your own.

98 Third Avenue didn’t fit my route. You can reach it by driving up Morton to Hawk Street (the Stewarts Shop), then left at the end of Hawk onto Third Avenue. A large garden operated by AVillage and Radix is on your right at the intersection, next to the Creighton Storey apartments.

In the nearby Mansion Neighborhood are three Breathing Lights buildings:

Myrtle Street, the block between Grand and Philip on the south side.

1 and 5 Bleeker Place. The street is one way going from Philip to Eagle.

 

For further information:

Albany County Land Bank, (518) 407-0309

South End Improvement Corp., (518) 436-8777

Tom McPheeters, (518) 433-0679, tommcp@me.com (Land Bank Community Advisory Committee, member SEIC Development Committee)